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CD Feature: Bach: "Brandenburg Concertos"

img  Tobias

This relatively new recording of Bachs’ Brandenburg Concertos with the Academy of St.James, conducted by the Carl Pini is released in the Silverline Classics Edition. Having already been released in the early nineties (Omega), it is now presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround with special features (2 Dual-Discs). One could ask, if it is really necessary to add another version to the endless list of interpretations of Bachs masterpiece. But surprisingly, this recording does offer some interesting aspects.

The orchestra seems rather small, a chamber orchestra. But this is no disadvantage - quite the reverse: In respect of clarity, this recording is nearly a ‘Gouldian’ event;  the listener should focus on the tissue of voices, which Pini manages to make apparent and comprehensible. His modesty and economy result in a new view on the concerto-principle (which is the formal, compositional archetype this work is based on): Usually, there are two seperate instrumental ‘authorities’ in this form that deal with musical material: The tutti (or ripieno) and the solo and they compete with each other.
In the case of Pinis interpretation, the listener is able to comfortably follow the artificial development  of both. And surprise: If the listener does so, he will suddenly notice fusions between tutti and solo, even splits, breaks, fights, unions and reunions – quite an unusual processes in the concerto-form; this is the differences between Bachs’ concertos and those by Vivaldi and Corelli: The compositional means which express this competitiveness are in Bachs case not only based on the dynamics (the so called ”Terassendynamik”) but also on the whole thematic and melodic treatment; the new element in Bach’s style is the exchange between the ‘authorities’ – this is a real break with the concerto-principle. Pini must have felt committed to show this – so to speak – ‘modern’ aspect in the Brandenburg Concertos.

If you like a pathetic, showing off and overdrawn Bach, this recording  probable won’t become one of your favourites. But if you are tired of listening to original instruments or to  the average and romanticized Bach recordings, this one is an alternative: Clear, straight, consequent, with a sense of form and structure.

By Jan Giffhorn

Homepage: Silverline Classics

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